I personally have been experimenting with binaural beats – both in and out of the float tank – for the past year or so and they have quickly and easily become one of my favourite go-to “hacks” for helping me achieve a desired state of being. From listening to a specific track right before going to sleep which helps put my mind and body in a state of relaxation and recovery to, on the flip-side, listening to a track that helps prime my brain-state for creativity and focus right before I sit down to do some work – like writing this blog! They are also an enjoyable and effective asset to try out and experiment with while in the float tank. For the reasons mentioned above, as well as the sound frequencies can resonate a subtle but noticeable vibration in the tank, water and your body making for quite the unique floating experience!
Heart rate variability: A new study suggests that among those with low HRV (heart-rate variability), brainwave entrainment can increase HRV. Researchers studied individuals ages 20 to 70 and administered alpha brain stimulation. The alpha wave stimulation resulted in greater heart-rate variability. Since a low HRV is associated with early mortality and poor psychological and physical health, efforts made to increase it should be regarded as beneficial.
Another study found slight improvements in trait anxiety as a result of entrainment. It was noted that the study with the most successful protocol started at 30 Hz beta and ramped the frequency down until the person experienced relaxation for 15 minutes. This was then followed with a session of 8 Hz to 14 Hz for 7 minutes. The results suggested that 75% of individuals improved on their measures of long-term stress.
In physics, entrainment is the process of two oscillating systems coming to assume the same periodic rhythm, such as is observed when two clocks slowly synchronize their ticking and tick together in harmony after some time. Pendulums also achieve this same synchronicity when swinging in close proximity to one another, a phenomenon first observed and written about in 1665 by Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch scientist.
If brainwave entrainment leaves you with unwanted side-effects (see below) or discomfort, you’re probably encouraging a range of brainwaves that are already excessive in some area of your brain. The way around this is to get a brain map to see what your brain’s strengths and weaknesses are, and see what (if any) brainwaves could use some encouragement.